Archie Miller

No. 11 Dayton upsets No. 3 Syracuse

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Dyshawn Pierre led No. 11 seed Dayton with 14 points and Tyler Ennis missed a pair of go-ahead jumpers in the final 20 seconds as the Flyers upset No. 3 Syracuse in the Round of 32, 55-53.

The win sends the Flyers to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years. They’ll play the winner of tomorrow afternoon’s game between No. 2 Kansas and No. 10 Stanford.

“Every time you advance it feels a little better,” Dayton head coach Archie Miller told TBS after the game. In the opening round, he beat his former boss, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta. “If you’re going to beat Syracuse in here you need a little bit of luck, and fortunately the last one didn’t go in.”

The Flyers are now the lone representative of the Atlantic 10, a conference that had six teams dance, remaining in the tournament.

The win may be bittersweet for Dayton fans, however. Regardless of what happens the rest of this tournament, Miller may not be in Dayton all that much longer. His coaching pedigree is as good as any young coach in the country, and he’s the younger brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller, and he’s now taken the Flyers from a team that was expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the A-10 to the second weekend of the Big Dance.

That’s impressive enough to get a phone call from Marquette, Wake Forest, Boston College or one of the other high major jobs that opened up this month. At the very least, Miller just earned himself a hefty raise.

The first 25 minutes of this game were about as difficult to watch as NCAA tournament basketball gets, as Dayton couldn’t figure out Syracuse’s defense and Syracuse, frankly, couldn’t figure out their own offense. The Flyers began to get better ball movement, and thus better shots, against Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone midway through the second half, right around the same time that Ennis finally figured out that he was going to have to start being people off the dribble if the Orange were going to score.

What was confusing, however, was the fact that Ennis opted not to try and drive on the final two possessions. He was not only getting into the paint at will late in the second half, he was starting to get the kind of friendly whistle that you expect superstars to get. And while he’ll likely be criticized for missing those jumpers, it’s important to remember that the Orange would not have been in a position to win the game had it not been for Ennis.

It was a microcosm of the Syracuse season.

For the last three months, the Orange had made an unfortunate habit out of playing down to their opponent, struggling to shoot from the perimeter and relying on Ennis to bail them out down the stretch.

Ennis just ran out of big buckets.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.